Francis in the Haunted House

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Francis in the Haunted House
Directed by Charles Lamont
Produced by Robert Arthur
Written by Herbert H. Margolis
William Raynor
Starring Mickey Rooney
Virginia Welles
Music by Henry Mancini
Frank Skinner
Herman Stein
Cinematography George Robinson
Edited by Milton Carruth
Distributed by Universal-International
Release dates
  • July 20, 1956 (1956-07-20)
Running time
80 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.2 million (US)[1]

Francis in the Haunted House is a 1956 American black-and-white comedy film from Universal-International, produced by Robert Arthur and directed by Charles Lamont.

This is the seventh and final film in Universal-International's Francis the Talking Mule series, notably without series director Arthur Lubin, star Donald O'Connor, or Francis' voice actor Chill Wills.

Plot[edit]

Francis witnesses a murder and then befriends bumbling reporter David Prescott (Mickey Rooney), who may be next in line. With Francis' help and guidance, Prescott uncovers a mystery involving murder, an inheritance, and a spooky old mansion on the edge of town.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

This seventh and final entry in the Francis the Talking Mule series was made without any of the key creative personnel from the earlier films. Leonard Maltin, in his Movie Guide, quotes Donald O'Connor on quitting the series: "When you've made six pictures and the mule still gets more fan mail than you do...." Director Lubin and Chill Wills were also absent, replaced respectively by Charles Lamont and voice actor Paul Frees, who did a close approximation of Wills' voice as Francis.

Mickey Rooney replaced Donald O'Connor as a new but similar character, David Prescott. According to his autobiography, Rooney was originally considered for a United Artists Francis feature film before Universal acquired the rights.

Rooney's casting was announced in January 1956.[2]

Charles Lamont was announced as the film's director some weeks later.[3]

Chill Wills wanted more money than Universal were willing to play, so the studio auditioned various voice actor replacements, including Mel Blanc,[4] before settling on Paul Frees.[5]

The film made no attempt at explaining why Francis left original sidekick Peter Stirling. In the script Francis says he decided to befriend reporter Prescott because "I once lived on a farm owned by Prescott's uncle and wanted to protect his nephew out of respect for the deceased." With the original elements missing, the film, a standard tale of fake ghosts and gangsters, was poorly received; it was widely reviewed as the weakest entry in the series.

Video releases[edit]

The original film, Francis (1950), was released in 1978 as one of the first-ever titles in the new LaserDisc format, DiscoVision Catalog #22-003.[6] It was then re-issued on LaserDisc in May 1994 by MCA/Universal Home Video (Catalog #: 42024) as part of an Encore Edition Double Feature with Francis Goes to the Races (1951).

The first two Francis films were released again in 2004 by Universal Pictures on Region 1 and Region 4 DVD, along with the next two in the series, as The Adventures of Francis the Talking Mule Vol. 1. Several years later, Universal released all 7 Francis films as a set on three Region 1 and Region 4 DVDs, Francis The Talking Mule: The Complete Collection.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ 'FRANCIS' SERIES TO BE CONTINUED: Mickey Rooney Will Star in the Seventh Installment in Place of O'Connor Columbia Seeks Josh Logan New Version of Jane Eyre By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Jan 1956: 18.
  3. ^ Lamont to Direct 'Francis' New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Jan 1956: 18.
  4. ^ M'MURRAY LAUDS ROAD TOURS' ROLE: Actor, Once Skeptical, Sees Personal Appearances as Great Aid to Hollywood Armand Deutsch Returning By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 Feb 1956: 27.
  5. ^ BROOKLYN WRITER GETS POT OF GOLD: Morton Thaw to Do Screen Play of His Video Script, 'Honest in the Rain' Mexican Unit Organized Of Local Origin By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Feb 1956: 24.
  6. ^ [1] (The DiscoVision Library)

External links[edit]